The Annual 2004: The 10 Most written about ads

1. Pepsi, "gladiator", CLM BBDO

Pepsi proved that big-budget, celebrity-laden advertising secures headlines. Its "gladiator" ad featuring Beyonce Knowles, Pink, Britney Spears and Enrique Iglesias earned it more column inches in the papers than any other ad this year, according to Propeller Communications. Launching on MTV in January with a three-minute epic version featuring the pop princesses, its success in the press proved greater than that of rival Coke's "I wish" spot. It continued to garner publicity by putting David Beckham in a tunic alongside other famous footballers for the follow-up.

2. McDonald's Salad Plus, Leo Burnett

What could be less McDonald's than Sex and the City? McDonald's introduction of a salad range inspired a good deal of cynical comment, but it was the campaign's nauseating female characters - "impatient Sophie, sensible Charlotte and Joanna who's always late", blatantly ripped off from SATC - that drew the maximum vitriol in the press.

3. The Conservative Party, in-house

The Tory Party leader Michael Howard's full-page ad in The Times in the form of a 16-point manifesto garnered vast amounts of editorial comment in the nationals. The stunt also attracted complaints from organisations quoted, such as the NHS, which said the data used were out of date.

4. John Smith's, "top bombing", TBWA\London

This two-year-old ad was catapulted back into the media during the Olympics coverage when it emerged that the British diving silver medallist Leon Taylor had auditioned to star in it. The ad features the comic Peter Kay winning a gold medal for his bomb. Taylor, who was 24 at the time, was not allowed to take part in the spot because of restrictions preventing people under 25 appearing in ads for alcohol.

5. Lever Faberge Dove, "real women", Ogilvy & Mather

This poster campaign for Dove firming products was shot by the uber-trendy photographer Rankin and featured six women of size 14 and above proportions. It was largely applauded by the press for plastering positive images of normal-shaped women across the nation's buses and poster sites. The Sun boosted Dove's coverage by launching a campaign to find the stars of the next campaign.

6. 118 118 The Number, WCRS, Naked

Not only did this campaign win plaudits at all the major awards bashes this year, but its moustachioed marathon men dominated the headlines after the 70s runner David Bedford claimed the company had used his image without permission. WCRS seized the opportunity to win more coverage by transforming them into 70s-style cops.

7. Walkers Crisps, Abbott Mead Vickers BBDO

The obesity debate and concerns about junk food advertising propelled Walkers Crisps and its use of celebs such as Gary Lineker and Tara Palmer-Tomkinson into seventh place. It may have been in the press for all the wrong reasons, but if there's any truth in the adage that "all publicity is good publicity", then Walkers can rest in the knowledge that whenever consumers see these stars, they are likely to link them with its crisps.

8. Adidas, 180 Amsterdam

The boxing legend Muhammed Ali sparring with his daughter Laila as part of the "impossible is nothing" campaign comes in at number eight. The brand attracted coverage for its use of special effects to team up current stars with former sporting icons in a series of international ads.

9. British Heart Foundation, Euro RSCG London

The squirm-inducing campaign, illustrating the build-up of fat in arteries caused by smoking for the Department of Health's tobacco control push, attracted criticism and plaudits in almost equal measure. The TV spot was cleared by Ofcom and deemed suitable for broadcasting following 64 complaints when it first ran. But it made the news for sticking in the minds of 90 per cent of people who saw it.

10. Nestle Kit Kat, J. Walter Thompson

There was plenty of hoo-ha when Nestle did away with the 57-year-old slogan "have a break" and replaced it with "make the most of your break". While the change itself generated a lot of editorial, it was also greeted with scepticism and suggestions that it would be followed by a campaign hailing the return of the old slogan.

- All data supplied from the Ads That Make News survey produced by Propeller Communications and Durrants Media Monitoring, in association with Brand Republic.


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